Stobart may have to expand fleet in wake of Flybe franchise deal
Airline aims to carry two million passengers a year by 2016
Since 2012, Stobart Air has operated regional services for Aer Lingus under an arrangement due to last until 2022
Dublin-based Stobart Air, which operates Aer Lingus’s regional services, says it may have to expand its fleet after signing a deal with British carrier Flybe that will see it operating routes between southeast England and the continent.
Stobart, known until last week as Aer Arann, said yesterday it had signed a franchise agreement with Flybe to operate six routes from London Southend Airport to continental Europe, beginning on June 5th. Details of the routes will be announced in April.
The deal is Stobart’s second franchise. Since 2012, it has operated regional services for Aer Lingus under an arrangement due to last until 2022.
Interim chief executive Sean Brogan said yesterday that the airline might have to expand its fleet further as a result of taking on the Flybe partnership.
The company last year announced a deal to buy a number of craft from French manufacturer ATR. Since last May, it has taken delivery of six of its 72-seat craft, and is due to receive two more. It currently has eight craft.
Two will be permanently based at Southend, where up to 50 jobs will be created as a result of the Flybe deal.
The airline’s parent, British transport and logistics group Stobart, also owns London Southend Airport, 40km east of the British capital. Aer Lingus regional also operates from there.
Mr Brogan said the airline aimed to become a specialist in franchise flying, but did not confirm if any further deals were in the pipeline. “I would say our focus will be to ensure that we deliver this one successfully,” he said.